Vodafone Group is to offer all staff who experience domestic abuse 10 days’ additional paid “safe leave”, after it found almost a third of workers the UK had experienced domestic abuse in some form.
The new policy will allow victims of domestic abuse or violence up to 10 days’ off for specialist help and counselling, appointments with the police, court appearances, finding a new home and supporting any children they might have. It will be adopted across all 23 of Vodafone’s operating countries.
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The organisation commissioned a survey which found 30% of working men and women had experienced domestic violence or abuse, with men marginally affected more than women (31% and 29%).
Eighteen per cent globally had quit their jobs as a result of domestic abuse, while 41% said the abuse had affected their career progression.
Almost half (49%) of the 510 workers polled felt too ashamed to discuss their situation at work. Of those who had, 58% said positive things happened as a consequence.
Vodafone’s HR managers will receive specialist training in how they can support domestic abuse victims and help them seek professional advice. They will also be given a toolkit with examples of domestic violence and abuse, the laws around it and how it can affect victims’ work.
Dr Jane Pillinger, an expert on gender equality and gender-based violence at work, developed the toolkit for Vodafone. She said: “More and more companies today are taking the initiative to provide support and paid leave for employees affected by domestic violence and abuse – this helps victims to safely stay in their jobs and to progress in their careers.
“Vodafone’s commitment to recognise the impact domestic violence has at work, to respond with support and up to 10 days domestic violence paid leave for affected employees, and to refer to specialist support, along with training for managers, is a major step forward and sends a strong signal to employees that the company takes the issue seriously.”
Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation social investment charity, said: “The result of our research shows the significant impact on people at work, affecting confidence, self-esteem and career progression. It also reveals how employers can help – something that Vodafone Group chose to act upon with the global policy they announced today.”
Last year Business in the Community and Public Health England developed a toolkit to help all employers identify and support victims of domestic abuse.
The GMB union has also urged employers to sign up to its five-point Work to Stop Domestic Violence charter, which asks them to ensure that staff experiencing domestic abuse are not disadvantaged at work and are given access to information and support.
The government has suggested that domestic abuse costs the UK £66 billion a year. Its draft Domestic Abuse Bill plans to introduce the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse to help people understand what constitutes abuse and encourage more victims to come forward.